Add to Technorati Favorites

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Nick Rate on e-Portfolios

I have long appreciated the thoughtful and challenging work of Nick Rate, no more than in this Slideshare. It is worth going to his blog post for some further questioning thoughts.

Much of what he writes makes for very good pedagogy although he raises several questions which we at eFolio in the UK believe we have the answers. One typical 'error' in my way of thinking, is to consider an e-Portfolio as a tool for Assessment OR a tool for recording Process(es) OR a tool for Showcasing. In eFolio it is quite possible for the one e-Portfolio to be used for all three (and more) functions at the same time. This can be done as soon as one understand the principle of writing for a specific 'Audience'. In eFolio artefacts can be uploaded once and yet repurposed according to the 'view' presented to specific readers.

Again, Nick raises issues of ownership and portability which need to be resolved by each individual school. Unfortunately, he leaves these questions unanswered, and, until they are, schools cannot really start on a track that they might regret later. eFolio has been purposely designed to overcome the questions that Nick leaves unanswered.

Well, apart from my gripes, New Zealand should be very proud of the work of such energetic leaders!


Julie Mynes said...

I met Nick Rate at uLearn 2010 Christchurch at his efolio workshops. Teachers in NZ are now using efolios for assessment, reflection, showcasing etc. It is proving to be an excellent tool and students are enjoying taking ownership of their work. I suppose the only problems we have had in getting started with student folios is whether to use blogger, edublogs or google. Moodle, KnowledgeNet & MyPortfolios are also being used.

How are efolios being set up in the UK?

Ray Tolley said...

Hi, Julie! Yes I have a very high regard for Nick Rate - his strong leadership is a real asset to the ePortfolio cause.

You main paragraph encapsulates many of the world-wide issues relating to ePortfolios. You identify one of the chief problems, that of "getting started". You list a number of different tools all of which serve *some* purpose but not as an entire and self-contained tool. - Although I suspect that MyPortfolio is the nearest to ideal in your list. - I have even come across one company that promotes its .pdf tool as an ePortfolio!

It all depends upon your priorities. Adult and intelligent people such as teachers might be able to cope with Mahara, but as Jamin Lietze would no doubt confirm, is not really suitable for Primary school children. Similarly, the less able, slow or nervous learners, adults with other pressures on their hands and the elderly would assuredly benefit from a single tool that can act as a repository for a range of artefacts, whether centrally or remotely hosted.

I can see that technicians migh have a very different view about the control of 'their' VLE/MLE and, again, administrators might be looking for anything that is 'free'.

However, as a teacher, I am convinced that I am providing a system that requires minimum input and maintenance by the school staff. I'm sure that no teacher wants an additional workload. My system has intuitive or 'context sensitive' help along with help-desk and telephone support.

My firm advice is to start with a 'shell' (such as eFolio) devised for your school or class which contains some simple scaffolding for pupils to 'hit the ground running'. As the children begin to familiarise themselves with the system they will discover many other features such as feedback and polls which encourage peer-review and collaboration. As they become more confident (and older) they may be encouraged to take on the responsibility of extending their audience to parents, mentors and other trusted readers.

A good example that I set up for a group of islands (the Orkneys) off the North East of Scotland might illustrate our approach. Quite simply, rather than starting with any 'subject' such as Maths or English, we set up a set of default pages which the children quickly began to populate. Later on they were encouraged to add other pages for the favourite subjects.

Here is the example set up by the lead teacher in the Orkneys, last year: